July 7, 2019

The early days of Saul

Preacher:
Series:
Passage: Acts 9:20-31
Service Type:

Introduction

  • Our passage refers to the early days of Saul
  • It is often said the early days of conversion really count
    • Explanation
    • God is gracious and able to give us new times when we can stand
  • Saul has been dramatically converted
    • 9:2 - he had been by the synagogues in Syria and given letters of authority to stamp out the church there
    • But as he was getting near Damascus the Lord God intervened
    • For 3 days he didn't eat or drink but sought the Lord
    • Ananais was sent to Saul
    • Saul was baptised
  • What would Saul do in these early days?
    • He continued to go to the synagogues that invited him to persecute the Christian church
    • He boldly preaches the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ
    • He doesn't give his testimony
    • He simply unfolds the pages of Scripture - proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God
  • The Jews were absolutely dumbfounded
    • How do you explain this?
    • An absolute miracle had occurred
    • He had met the risen Christ
    • He was absolutely convinced that Jesus was the Son of God
    • A clear cut conversion
    • He was prepared to die for the truth - twice the people tried to kill him
  • How genuine is our faith?
    • We need a clear cut conversion
    • There needs to be clear evidence (though we aware new converts are spiritual babes)
      • A love for God's word
      • Wanting to pray
      • Concerned for the gospel and the church
      • Zeal
    • We need to pray for this
  • Overview:
    • Boldness in Preaching
    • Remarkable Deliverance
    • Unexpected Hiccup and Finding a Friend
    • The Blessing of God comes on the churches

Boldness in Preaching

  • v20-21& v27 - bold preaching
  • A great step of faith in Saul
    • But was he trembling?
    • He knew fear and trembling - Corinthians
  • He preached the Son of God
    • His miracles, resurrection, full deity, cited Old Testament scriptures
      • He had not yet spent three years in the Arabian peninsula
    • It was a fearful thing to preach this
      • It was a point of controversy with the Jews
    • A controversial message - one that made the Jews want to kill him
    • He preached with conviction - he had met the risen Jesus Christ and knew the truth
  • No record of conversion
    • Saul was not to see any conversions early on
  • He was commissioned to preach to the gentiles (v15)
    • He went first to the Jew and then the gentile - he had a deep burden for his own people
      • Rom 9:1-3
        • Do we have a burden for our people?
      • Rom 10:1
      • Acts 17:1-2
    • Saul begins his ministry preaching to his own people
    • We should do the same - let us pray for a burden
  • v29 - he boldly disputed with the Hellenists
    • There are over 300 quotes in the Old Testament referring to the Messiah
    • He was given supernatural strength (v22)
      • In the midst of opposition he is giving increasing strength
    • cf with Stephen
    • He was filled with the Holy Spirit (v17)

Remarkable Deliverance

  • If a film was made about his early life - a lot would be made of this
    • A plot against Paul
    • The disciples lower him down via a basket
  • There were many remarkable deliverances
    • The 40 men who vowed not to eat anything until they had killed Saul (then Paul)
    • v24 - their plot became known to Saul
  • He must have given such praise to God for deliverance
  • How many days?
    • Gal 1:16-18
      • Spent 3 years in the Arabian peninsula before returning to Damascus
    • These things were not instantaneous but over a period time
  • 2 Cor 1:8-11
    • Paul is confidence in deliverance - even in the darkest of circumstances
    • Paul knew that God was for him
  • 2 Tim 4:17-18
    • Every confidence in God's deliverance (even when people had deserted him)
    • Do we have this same certainty?

Unexpected Hiccup and the Finding of a Friend

  • v26 - News has not filtered through
    • Perhaps the time away [in Arabia] had put a question mark over him
    • All the people could remember was that he was the person who persecuted them
    • All that he had done had left a deep scar on the church
    • He was initially rebuffed by the church
      • Have we been rebuffed by members of the church?
      • At such times we need to know our standing is in Christ
      • At such times we need a friend
  • Barnabas gets involved
    • We have already heard about him - examples
    • He brings Saul to the apostles and they accept him
    • He becomes part of the church and moves freely
  • Application:
    • We need Barnabas' today
    • Even if we remember our past, the Lord has forgiven us

The Blessing of God comes on the churches

  • Even in the time of persecution, the churches were greatly blessed - v31
    • The persecution was less know
    • Saul was now one of their number
    • The unified church was edified and at peace
  • Fear of the Lord vs Comfort of the Holy Spirit
    • Is this a contradiction?
    • The fear of the Lord:
      • Respect and awe
      • Living an obedient life
    • The comfort of the Holy Spirit:
      • In a place of safety, peace and blessing
  • Could this happen to the churches in Great Britain?
    • Yes
    • Let us pray for these things: boldness, confidence, unity
    • Let us pray for the preaching of Jesus Christ